What Silent Love Hath Writ:
A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Shakespeare's Sonnets

Martin S. Bergmann &
Michael Bergmann

This unusual study takes as its starting point a close reading of two of  Shakespeare’s  sonnets, Sonnet 20: A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted has thou the master mistress of my passion, and Sonnet 62:  Sin of self-love posesseth all mine eye and from these sonnets develops the major themes of the poems, among them: the Poet’s war with time and death, the separation of the Poet’s love, which is largely homosexual from his sexuality which is heterosexual and his unambivalent love of nature.

Gifted poets wrestling with inner forces can often express in metaphor ideas which conceptual language has as yet no way to codify. The Sonnets abound in magnificent metaphors and many of them can be understood, now, in the conceptual language developed by psychoanalysis. This understanding, far from  reducing the  pleasure in the Sonnets, adds to them by giving us an understanding of the interplay of the themes and the astounding half-hidden things the Poet is telling us about love and about himself. As a byproduct, the reader will emerge with an appreciation of some of the lesser-known concepts in  psychoanalysis  as well as a thorough grasp of the Sonnets.

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About the Authors

Martin S. Bergmann has been a psychoanalyst  in private practice for fifty years and one of the major teachers of psychoanalysis for two generations. He is the author of The Anatomy of Loving, In The Shadow of Moloch, The Evolution of Psychoanalytic Technique, (with Frank R. Hartman)  The Hartmann Era, Understanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of Psychoanalysis,  and Generations of the Holocaust (editor).

Michael Bergmann is a screenwriter and film director who began his career directing plays by Shakespeare. His films include Milk and Money, Trifling with Fate, Death by Committee and Tied to a Chair. He has won awards in the U.S.A., Canada and France.

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